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Meet the Chiefs class of 2019

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Thursday, December 6, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Reuben O’Neill
DOB: 17/03/95
Position: Prop
Mitre 10 Cup team: Taranaki
The scoop: Reuben O’Neill is one of the rare players who has been called into the All Blacks squad before even making their Investec Super Rugby debut. The 116kg prop was one of Taranaki’s best performers in their disappointing 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign and was rewarded with a call up to the All Blacks squad for the Japanese leg of their 2018 end of year tour. Although he didn’t take the field, the experience of being inside the All Blacks camp will help prepare O’Neill for a big first season of Super Rugby for the Chiefs. 

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Pita Gus Sowakula
DOB: 26/10/94
Position: Lock/loose forward
Mitre 10 Cup team: Taranaki
The scoop: A former age group basketball star, Fiji-born Sowakula has made huge strides since making rugby his first choice sport. After being called into the Chiefs squad in 2018 as injury cover, Sowakula made seven appearances and impressed with his high work rate, athleticism and staunch defence. At 1.95cm and 110kg, Sowakula can switch between lock and loose forward and offers the Chiefs plenty of physicality alongside his versatility.

Laghlan McWhannell
DOB: 20/10/98
Position: Lock
Mitre 10 Cup team: Waikato
The scoop: Young lock Laghlan McWhannell has been rewarded for a breakout season in 2018 with a spot in the Chiefs squad for 2019. The 1.98cm lock was dominant for the New Zealand Under 20s at the World Championships in France and continued his strong form for Waikato in the Mitre 10 Cup. At just 20-years-old, McWhannell still has plenty of learning and developing to do and will benefit greatly from playing and training alongside Brodie Retallick.

Etene Nanai-Seturo
DOB: 20/08/99
Position: Fullback
Mitre 10 Cup team: N/A
The scoop: One of the most electrifying new comers to join Super Rugby in 2019, Etene Nanai-Seturo will have Chiefs fans brimming with excitement and opposition defence coaches worried. The dynamic 19-year-old has already shown his class on the world stage for the All Blacks Sevens and will be looking to replicate the game-breaking ability of his older cousin Tim Nanai-Wiliams in Chiefs colours during the 2019 season.
Tumua Manu
DOB: 18/04/93
Position: Utility back
Mitre 10 Cup team: Auckland
The scoop: Called up as injury cover to the Blues squad in 2018, exciting utility back Tumua Manu made an immediate impact with three tries in four appearances on the wing. The Samoa-born game-breaker shifted back to his preferred position in the midfield for Auckland in the Mitre 10 Cup and was a constant menace on attack with seven tries as Auckland lifted the Premiership title. With a nose for the try line, ability to cover multiple positions and an educated left boot, Manu is sure to be a valuable recruit for the Chiefs in 2019.

Bailyn Sullivan
DOB: 03/09/98
Position: Midfield back
Mitre 10 Cup team: Waikato
The scoop: There’s a feeling that 2019 will be the year that former schoolboy sensation Bailyn Sullivan really makes his mark at the top level. With searing pace, fancy footwork and an exceptional offloading game, Sullivan has all the traits of a great midfielder. Now aged 20, and with a few extra kilograms of muscle added to his frame, Sullivan will be looking for plenty of game time to make good on his immense promise.

Jack Debreczeni
DOB: 06/06/93
Position: First five-eighth
Mitre 10 Cup team: Northland
The scoop: Although not new to Super Rugby after playing 53 games for the Melbourne Rebels, Jack Debreczeni will make his first appearance for a New Zealand team in 2019 after signing on for the Chiefs. With one of the biggest boots in the game, Debreczeni had an impressive Mitre 10 Cup campaign for Northland with 100 points scored across 11 appearances. A slick distributor, fine tactician and strong ball runner, Debreczeni provides the Chiefs with a reliable and experienced option in the ten jersey.